Book "Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

"Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilized? Have you ever found yourself majoring in minor activities? Do you ever feel busy but not productive?"

This book is about answers to these questions. The key messages and takeaways for me are:

  • Life is a tradeoff. You can’t have it all, therefore you have to choose, choose what matters the most. Less, but better.
  • You have to give yourself permission to say No to others, so you can say Yes to your goal and make highest contribution.
  • It’s not about getting more things done, it’s about getting the right things done. Effective over productive. I love this so much.

If You Don’t Have Time to Read it…

Here is a great video reviewing this book, and actually I started reading it because of this video. To be honest I think it might be arguably better than the book itself. If you don’t have enough time, just check out the video, should take you less than 25 minutes.

Chapters I Would Like to Read Twice

Part I: Essence: What is the core mind-set of an Essentialist?

  • CHOOSE: The Invincible Power of Choice
  • DISCERN: The Unimportance of Practically Everything
  • TRADE-OFF: Which Problems Do I want?

Part II: Explore: How can we discern the trivial many from the vital few?

  • SLEEP: Protect the Asset
  • SELECT: The Power of Extreme Criteria

Part III: Eliminate: How can we cut out the trial many?

  • DARE: The Power of a Graceful “No”

Part IV: Execute: How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?

  • PROGRESS: The Power of Small Wins


The first part, the "What" part, is really great. All the problems introduced there are so real, I could map literary everything to my real life. Very inspirational.

But sadly the following chapters, the "how" part, are less compelling to me. I agree with the general idea, it’s just the examples and evidences are not convincing enough.

Overall it’s a good book, I’d rate it 4 out of 5. It does give me positive energies and courages to improve my life, makes me pause to think about the past, which choices were made by “default”(others) and which were made by “design”(me), makes me think twice before purchase any non-essential items, makes me observe my bad habits & routines and fix them, makes me pursue less but better.

p.s. I didn't title this post as "Book Review", as I realized the word "review" is too big for me, makes me want to cover every aspect of the book, pros and corns, scan every note and highlight I made during the reading, that is overwhelming and will simplify stops me from writing. “Done is better than perfect”, indeed, the essential thing for me is to write this post and share my findings!

November 18, 2014 Book

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Qihuan Piao

Qihuan Piao

(aka kinopyo) is Chinese based in Tokyo. Software writer. He shares stories inspired him in this blog. His infamous line - "I feel calm when I kill those monsters, or people (in game)" shocks his friends deeply.
He also writes in Japanese and Chinese.